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Friday, April 22, 2016

Reviewing the Nikon Nikkor AIS 85mm f/2 - Is the Hype Justified?

I will be away for a while due to very heavy workload. AmateurNikon will be back with new articles around May 10th. Meanwhile, feel free to take a look at the countless other articles - you're sure to find something that interests you! Thanks :)


I was asked by a reader to offer an opinion on the Nikon Nikkor AI-S 85mm f/2. The reader asked me, verbatim, "is the hype about it justified?". To be honest, I'm not sure we can talk of a "hype". There are certainly quite a few users who have taken many magnificent pics with this lens, and they consider it an excellent portrait and short tele. On the other hand, there are also other users, who could claim the same about other lenses. So, what's the truth?

Stop down to f/2.8 for tack-sharp, contrasty images.


+ like all Ai-S lenses, it's built superbly. It will take a very thorough beating without problems.
+ manual focus is perfect, again as expected.
+ splendid optical quality - especially from f/2.8 and over, you really can't find any flaws.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Photoshop Tutorial: Portrait Retouching in 2 Minutes

It's been a while since we had a Photoshop Tutorial. So I thought I needed to come up with something really awesome for you, and I think I just might have! Long-time readers might remember my smoother skin Photoshop procedure, which is what I regularly use for professional use. However, I was looking for a procedure that gives me a starting point, something I can work with faster. Perhaps even in a more batch-like way. Not all images need lengthy retouching using a brush and painstakingly adjusting minute details. Sometimes, you just need a basic, clean, fast and natural-looking workflow.

Today I will show you how to use Photoshop to improve skin textures on your portraits in two minutes or less. The procedure is something I have come up with myself, and it involves using the "color selection" and "stroke" tools of Photoshop. Without further delay, let's begin.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Take the "One Lens Challenge"!

Let's try something special today! As you might remember from previous posts, I personally prefer to use prime (fixed focal length) lenses. Although the zooms are more flexible in terms of focal length, they lose in every other aspect. Primes have better image quality, they are smaller, lighter, cheaper, and their maximum aperture is larger.

There is also another reason I prefer primes, however. Focal length is not meant as a...foot substitute. In other words, you're not supposed to zoom in or out instead of walking toward or away from your subject. By doing that, you're changing the perspective - it's an entirely different photo! Zoom in and out has become the lazy man's/woman's habit. In addition, when you have to think of all that, you begin to lose sense of composition and framing - something that, especially for beginners, can be devastating.

I've often taken on professional assignments armed with a humble 50mm lens.
Position is more important than focal length flexibility

The key to great photos: 
Learn to see the world as if you always do so through a viewfinder.
And this is easier to achieve if you are used to specific focal lengths.